Hours after the news broke Wednesday that former U of L quarterback Jeff Brohm would be leaving Purdue to become the next head coach of his alma mater, the top-rated running back prospect in the Class of 2023 decided to take his talents to Texas A&M instead.
Owens, a native of El Campo, Texas, made public his de-commitment from the Cardinals with a tweet at 5:19 p.m. Wednesday. The five-star tailback thanked "the Louisville family and fans for all of the love you have shown me throughout this process" and said the decision was "bittersweet for me, due to all the relationships that have been developed."
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Then, just after 10 p.m., he announced his commitment to coach Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies.
"Nobody truly knows what this process is like unless you have been through it," Owens said in a statement posted to Twitter. "This is a business as we all can see. People root for you when you go to a school they want you to then flip on you when you decide different. For the recruits in the future, don't let anyone get in your head or change who you are. Do what is best for you and your family. Do your own research and stay true to yourself."
Before Owens' de-commitment, Louisville's 2023 class ranked 19th on 247Sports' national leaderboard. Since then, it has fallen to 26th.
With a 247Sports Composite rating of 0.9880, Owens was the second-highest-rated prospect to commit to U of L since the recruiting database's inception. Explaining his decision to de-commit in a conversation with The Athletic, Owens said he was waiting to see if running backs coach De’Rail Sims would remain with the program after Scott Satterfield left Monday for Cincinnati.
Sims reportedly called Owens on Wednesday to let him know that wouldn't be the case. Later in the evening, ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reported that Sims will be joining Satterfield's staff as its running backs coach.
"I was just like … a new staff, I don’t know them," Owens told The Athletic. "So I was like, 'I’m gonna decommit.'"
Owens committed to Louisville on June 20 after spending a weekend visiting the 502 alongside 17 other recruits. The group was treated to a lavish dinner inside an airplane hangar, took photos with luxury cars on the field at Cardinal Stadium and spent an evening watching the races at Churchill Downs.
One of prospects on the visit with Owens was four-star quarterback commit Pierce Clarkson, the de-facto leader of the Cardinals' 2023 class from prep powerhouse St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California. Clarkson played in integral role in helping Louisville land Owens' pledge, according to On3's Gerry Hamilton, a senior recruiting analyst based in Texas who has covered Owens since he arrived at El Campo High School.
"He's grown to have a tight bond with Pierce Clarkson (and) the Clarkson family," Hamilton told The Courier Journal in June. "I think Rueben will continue to be very close with the Clarkson family all the way up until he enrolls at Louisville."
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After seeing the news that Owens no longer plans to be enrolling with him at U of L, Clarkson tagged the running back in a tweet and wrote, "All love."
Two days before the news of Brohm's hire surfaced, Louisville athletic director Josh Heird said it was going to take an "all-hands-on-deck" effort from those sticking around the football office to keep the Cardinals' 2023 class intact in the wake of Satterfield's departure ahead of college football's early signing period, which runs from Dec. 21-23.
"It'll be anybody and everybody that can have conversations with that group of young men and explain to them what the opportunities are here," Heird said.
Flanked by interim head coach Deion Branch, Heird went on to say that he believes recruits " still commit to a program and a school as opposed to an individual.
"There's a lot of things to like about this university and this program," he added. "I think we have to make sure they understand that we're going to make a really good decision in the future of this program."
If Owens' comments to The Athletic and his statement upon committing to Texas A&M are any indication of how other Louisville commits are feeling amid the coaching change, it appears Heird's theory is about to be put to the test.
Reach recruiting and trending sports reporter Brooks Holton at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @brooksHolton.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Rueben Owens flips from Louisville football to Texas A&M's 2023 class